hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

February 27, 2014

Fired city officer mulls plea bargain

Pellot's trial on charges he stalked wife, her boyfriend is delayed

By Mike LaBella
Staff Writer

---- — A former Haverhill police officer who was fired for allegedly stalking his former wife was expected to go on trial this week in Newburyport District Court, but instead was granted a postponement to March 31.

Victor “Manny” Pellot’s defense lawyer, Gerald LaFlamme of Haverhill, said Pellot may be considering a plea agreement, but that there is ample time to decide.

“We’re always exploring that (plea agreement) but whether or not we’ll reach an agreement ... there’s plenty of time until the next court date,” LaFlamme said.

Pellot was charged a year ago with stalking and unlawfully seeking CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) information. In addition to stalking his ex-wife and her boyfriend, Pellot misused police resources and databases to research the boyfriend’s background, police said.

Judge Peter Doyle granted the postponement. Pellot’s stalking trial is being heard in Newburyport instead of Haverhill District Court because charges against a police officer are routinely heard before a judge in a court other than the one officers appear in as part of their job.

Pellot, 50, was fired from the Haverhill force last July, following a Civil Service hearing that concluded the previous month. He had been a member of the Haverhill department since 1983.

The trial that was originally scheduled to begin yesterday was changed last week to a status hearing, but the district attorney’s schedule wasn’t updated to reflect that, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Pellot sat in the front row of the courtroom yesterday along with two other men, who appeared to be either relatives or friends.

Police Chief Alan DeNaro’s recommendation to fire Pellot was the result of an internal Haverhill police investigation triggered by Pellot’s Feb. 27, 2013, arrest by state police on criminal stalking and threatening charges. The charges stem from an incident in which Pellot allegedly chased his ex-wife, Doreena, and her boyfriend, Thomas Ratte of Merrimack, N.H., through Haverhill in his personal vehicle, confronting them at one point, and then continuing the chase on Interstate 495. Pellot has pleaded not guilty to two counts of stalking.

“Officer Pellot willfully and maliciously engaged in a knowing pattern of conduct and an additional series of phone calls, voice mails and texts over a seven-month period that were directed at Thomas Ratte and Doreena Pellot,” reads a report by state trooper Lt. Paul Zipper. “The conduct seriously alarmed, annoyed and put Mr. Ratte and Ms. Pellot in substantial emotional distress.”

That report said the Pellots separated in September 2011 after 24 years of marriage and that Doreena Pellot and Ratte began dating on July 7, 2012.

Another report by City Solicitor William Cox, which was based on Zipper’s report, documented four instances over a seven-month period in which Pellot aggressively confronted his ex-wife and Ratte, including one in which Pellot threatened to kill Doreena Pellot.

The final incident is the one that led to Pellot’s arrest by state police on Feb. 27 of last year.

“While Pellot chased the couple on the highway, the officer sent Doreena Pellot and Ratte profanity-laden messages that stated, among other threats, that he was going to kill Doreena Pellot,” the report said.

After Pellot’s arrest, the Police Department began its own investigation and learned that Pellot had been misusing department resources to harass and stalk the couple, Cox’s report said.

The report details several instances in which Pellot searched the state’s Criminal Justice Information System to research Ratte’s past. Two Haverhill officers said they were asked by Pellot while they were on duty to use the police computer to try to get Ratte’s work, criminal and automobile history.

Pellot was cited in Cox’s report with multiple violations of police rules, regulations and ethics, as well as misusing the police criminal history database, conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty and unsatisfactory job performance.

Pellot was also demoted in the past. In a case unrelated to the charges he stalked his wife, Pellot served a year-long suspension in 2004 and was demoted from sergeant to patrolman after he was found to have been present while on duty during cocaine sales at his cousin’s home in Haverhill in 2002 and 2003, according to a police investigation.